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Just The Sports: Player Of The Year Candidates

Just The Sports

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Player Of The Year Candidates

Although the college basketball regular season is only about half over for most teams, it is not too early to take at look at three players who should be among the top vote getters for player of the year: senior University of Wisconsin forward Alando Tucker, senior University of Nevada forward Nick Fazekas, and freshman University of Texas guard/forward Kevin Durant. Each of the players excels in at least one aspect of the game of basketball, but even player of the year candidates have flaws.

When it comes to taking care of the ball, Alando Tucker has done the best job out of this trio in terms of assist and turnover rates. Still, this distinction does not mean Tucker handles the ball spectacularly well because he does not, only possessing an assist rate of 9.3 and a turnover rate of 7.7. Additionally, although, his 6.5 free throw attempts per game matches Durant's and betters Fazekas', the fact Tucker shoots only 64.1% from the free throw line renders that advantage moot, especially when Durant's 85.6% free throw percentage enters the conversaton. Tucker may play on the best team out of this bunch and his team may depend on him the most, but he is no better than the other two aforementioned candidates.

Tucker is certainly not the best shooter since that honor goes to Nick Fazekas, who has a 66.2% true shooting percentage through fifteen games, better than Tucker's 55.5% and Durant's 62.0%. Fazekas also happens to be the best rebounder by quite a large margin as evidenced by his 26.6 rebound rate. However, this does not make Fazekas the perfect offensive player. In spite of shooting an impressive 86.8% from the charity stripe, Fazekas only gets there 3.5 times a game, which makes his deft shooting touch from the free throw line almost a waste.

What has not been a waste was the scholarship Rick Barnes gave to Kevin Durant. Despite being only a freshman, he has had a large impact on the college basketball scene with play that will no doubt be rewarded with several end of the year awards as he has rewarded the Longhorn faithful with 23.7 points per game, tops among these three. Impressive scoring prowess, yes, but there is one part of Durant's resume that requires further elaboration. Those who look at his 11.0 rebounds per game should not be fooled into thinking Durant is a prodigious rebounder. One look at his 19.3 rebound rate will debunk the myth he is in Fazekas' class when it comes to rebounding, even though he only averages 1.1 rebound less per game than the Nevada forward. Instead, Durant has benefited from additional rebounding opportunities. In Durant's sixteen games, there are have been an average 73.2 rebounds a contest while in Fazekas' fifteen played games, there have only been 63.2 rebounds per game that were available for the taking.

Defensively, though, Durant has no peer among this crowd when it comes to filling up the stats in the box score. He is better than Fazekas and Tucker in both blocks per game (1.8) and steals per game (1.6), no small feat for a college freshman.

With many games left to play, each of these players has a chance to distance himself from the other two, and college basketball fans should keep an eye on all three of these players as the season progresses.



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